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Community Service

South Georgia Farmworker Health Project        Migrant Healthcare in the field       Caring for Migrant worker families

The Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s inter-professional and inter-disciplinary community service-learning projects are a source of pride within the University and supports the medical school’s mission:

  • to provide outstanding educational programs for medical and graduate students, and for training health care professionals; 
  • to develop outstanding clinicians and investigators who are lifelong learners, will provide the highest quality compassionate care, and who will serve the needs of their community and the world in the best traditions of our professions;
  • to conduct innovative and collaborative research and integrate this knowledge into the practice of medicine; 
  • to advance the early detection, treatment, and prevention of disease;
  • to ensure the highest ethical and professional standards in all of our endeavors.
The Department faculty and trainees participate in a variety of community service projects such as health fairs and Run/Walks for a cause.   The following projects are most noteworthy. 

The South Georgia Farmworker Health Project

This inter-professional team project provides the opportunity for students and faculty to learn from each other and from the seasonal and migrant farmworker population about the challenges to the provision quality health care, and how to use their clinical knowledge and skills to care for patients without the benefits of a formal system of healthcare, routine diagnostic studies, and specialty care referral.  This award-winning project is supported by donations, student fund-raising activities and volunteers from Emory, the Center for Disease Control, and local communities.   Recent enhancements to this project include leadership development, research, and mentoring teenaged volunteers, interested in the health professions. http://www.emorypa.org/farmworker.htm 

Jodie Guest, PhD, epidemiologist, regular project volunteer and part-time faculty at the PA Program wrote the following description about the SGFHP in an application to the health care hero award:  The South Georgia Farmworker Health Project (SGFHP) began in1996 out of a trunk of a car with one of Emory University’s Physician Assistant Program Faculty and four students as a clinical learning opportunity for students interested in migrant health issues. Now in our 17th year, the Project encompasses a multi-disciplinary team of nearly 100 students, clinicians and volunteers per week each summer. The SGFHP has received local, regional and national recognition for our innovative, culturally appropriate delivery of healthcare at the juncture of justice and medicine. Since 1996, we have provided free, basic healthcare to over 20,000 patients, some of whom may not have survived without intervention.

SGFHP takes place each June for one week each in Bainbridge and Valdosta, GA.  These communities are home to the largest migrant farmworker populations in Georgia.  The vast majority of patients (75-80%) have not seen a healthcare provider in the past year and many have never received healthcare. Most are Latino, primarily from Mexico, but also come from Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Citizenship is not a barrier to care.

Emory/Community Partners

This program has grown into a logistically complicated and community supported program with teaching implications on a scale not fathomed in 1996.  Over 90% of Emory PA students choose to participate in the SGFHP. Today, students from Mercer University PA Program, Emory University School of Medicine and the Physical Therapy Program, and Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico participate. Students from local MSW and nursing programs are members of the interdisciplinary team.

Our 100% volunteer faculty includes members of the PA Program, and the Departments of Family and Preventive Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and Emergency Medicine/Toxicology as well as a cardiologist and an infectious disease physician from Atlanta. Dental services are provided by volunteer dentists from the local communities.  A basic pharmacy is provided by fundraising efforts and donations and clothing and food are provided by local churches and youth programs in Atlanta. Medical interpreters are provided in both Spanish and Haitian Creole as language can be a significant barrier to care. The project includes volunteers from CDC, youth groups, local health departments and churches.

For many faculty members, this is a time of family service with the children helping set up clinic, create patient care packages, and organize and run the clothing and food donation areas as well as entertain small children attending the clinic with their farmworker parents. For the faculty members involved, this is impactful teaching time that goes beyond specific patient diagnostics and treatment to the very core of service and humanity. 

Daily work

We travel by caravan to distant sites to provide clinics held in locations of convenience for the workers. Our morning clinic travels to farms and field-side areas to provide care prior to the pickers going into the fields for work. Our evening clinics are at housing camps, packing sheds, country stores, and churches. Most clinic areas are outdoors, austere, and require ingenuity. Folding chairs are used to set up exam space in tomato fields, packing plants and parking lots.  Typically, there is a four hour morning clinic and a seven hour evening clinic.  Most conditions seen are related to hard, repetitive work, in a difficult environment.

In 2012, one of our faculty members founded Teen Corp, a program that pairs teens interested in a future in healthcare with an Emory PA student mentor during SGFHP. The inaugural year exceeded all expectations for everyone involved.  Teen Corp was the recipient of the Service Award at the 2012 graduation, is the feature article in a national PA journal and one member was awarded the Atlanta Teen Volunteer of the Year.  There is a waiting list for youth to join Teen Corp for 2013.

Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Georgia. Many crops need to be picked by hand and these hands belong to farmworkers who have no access to healthcare. Growers desire healthy workers. Our long history with the many growers in South Georgia has built trust, respect and recognition of our mutual goal of keeping workers healthy. A healthier community benefits everyone.

The Good Samaritan Health Clinic Project

This clinic, established in 1999, serves and urban multicultural indigent population, many of whom are immigrants and refugees.  Due to growing demands for clinic appointments exceeding the capacity of the Good Samaritan Clinic, collaboration with the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s Family Medicine and PA Program Divisions was envisioned as a viable way to provide an extended-hours clinic on Saturdays, and to provide students with opportunities to learn medicine, cultural sensitivity, and social responsibility. These Saturday sessions run by Medical and PA student leaders and staffed by a variety of volunteers, including interpreters and students, who see patients under the supervision of Department Physician and PA faculty. For more information see: http://www.emorypa.org/good_sam.htm        View a photo of the Good Samaritan Health Center Saturday clinic project

The City of Refuge HEALing Center Project

Emory medical and PA students and faculty are helping to provide free care to indigent populations during evening sessions at the Healing Community Center, and raise funds to support this Clinic.  For more information see: http://www.emorypa.org/city_of_refuge.htm

Habitat for Humanity Annual Project

Each year, PA students volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a family in need.  For more information see:  http://www.emorypa.org/habbitat.htm

The Emory PA Program 5K Fun Run

Each year the first year PA student class plans and conducts a 5 K Fun Run with support of faculty, senior PA students, and alumni to raise funds for a variety of organizations that are close to their hearts.    For more information see: http://www.emorypa.org/fun_run1.htm

HealthSTAT Project (Health Students Taking Action Together)

Emory University School of Medicine signed on as charter institutional partner of this Georgia-based community health activist group.   Medical and health professions program students and faculty, as well as students and faculty from the Rollins School of Public Health are active participants in this organization as leaders for change in heath care issues.   In 2001 the threat of closure of Grady Memorial Hospital, a three county-supported hospital and community clinics for the poor, and a major teaching hospital for Emory and Morehouse Schools of Medicine, mobilized trainees and faculty to take action by joining the Grady is Vital campaign.   For more information see: http://www.healthstatgeorgia.org/

Medical Mission to Haiti

Dr. Oguchi Nwosu has established an annual 1-week medical mission trip to Haiti each June.  This community-service learning and research project is funded through philanthropic donations and in partnership with Medshare and the Emory Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.  The purpose of this mission is to develop and sustain a woman’s health clinic in Haiti for patient care, HPV testing and treatment, contraception education and management and investigate cultural barriers to contraception,  and to establish a FM faculty mentoring relationship with medical students and Family Medicine residents interested in public health, primary care, especially for medically underserved populations.    Participants include Dr. Nwosu, and at a minimum one Emory FM Resident, and 4 Emory medical students.  The team expects to provide care for ~ 150 women in 1 week.     View a project photo1 and project photo 2 here:

If you would like to support these projects with a donation, please contact the Business Administrator of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at 404-712-8448, or 404-727-2909, or donate online at: http://campaign.emory.edu/ways-to-give/make-a-gift-online.php, designate the recipient School of Medicine, then select Other, and type in DFPM (specify which project) community project(s).